Servant leaders value people for who they are, not just for what they bring to the organisation. Servant leaders do not promote themselves, but prioritise others. A servant leader actively contributes to the personal development and performance of their team. Here are 10 characteristics and traits that distinguish a servant leader from more traditional ones.
By paying full attention to what others are saying, servant leaders are able to gain a full understanding of all interpersonal situations they face. They use active listening to resolve conflicts, to counsel others, and also to provide training. Many people in positions of power are blissfully unaware of their shortcomings, but not the servant leader. They are fully aware of their strengths, weaknesses, values, emotions and feelings.
This self-awareness enables the servant leader to understand his or her personal biases and to set them aside when making decisions. A servant leader finds it easy to influence the opinions and actions of others through their ability to persuade. This quality is very useful in negotiations with business partners, customers and stakeholders. Since servant leaders are committed to the well-being of others, they use this ability only to positively influence others.
Everything is connected: the past, the present and the future. Servant leaders have an intuitive ability to predict what is likely to happen in the future, based on the past and the present. This foresight enables these leaders to plan ahead. You will serve people best when you are committed to listening carefully to them and understanding what they are saying.
To improve your listening skills, give people your full attention, watch their body language, avoid interrupting them before they finish speaking, and give feedback on what they say. Self-awareness is the ability to look at yourself, think deeply about your emotions and behaviour, and consider how they affect the people around you and align with your values. Servant leaders use persuasion - rather than their authority - to encourage people to act. They also try to build consensus in groups, so that everyone supports decisions.
Foresight is when you can predict what is likely to happen in the future by learning from past experience, identifying what is happening now and understanding the consequences of decisions. Management is about taking responsibility for the actions and performance of your team, and being accountable for the role team members play in your organisation. In his groundbreaking book on quantum science and leadership, Rewiring the Corporate Brain (199 , Zohar goes so far as to assert that "servant leadership is the essence of quantum thinking and quantum leadership (p. Servant leaders are more likely to have more engaged employees and enjoy better relationships with team members and other stakeholders than leaders who do not put the interests of others before their own".
Scott Peck, Peter Senge, Peter Vaill, Margaret Wheatley and Danah Zohar, to name just a few of the cutting-edge leadership authors and advocates of servant leadership. While these are also important skills for the servant leader, they must be reinforced by a deep commitment to listening carefully to others. The servant leader recognises the enormous responsibility to do everything in his or her power to foster the personal and professional growth of employees and colleagues. Servant leaders know that leadership is not about them, but that things are accomplished through others.
It takes time, dedicated resources and the support of people at all levels of a company to actively work to promote servant leaders and a servant leadership model. A servant leader has the ability to recognise and understand the feelings and emotions experienced by his or her team. After some years of careful study of Greenleaf's original writings, I have identified a set of ten characteristics of the servant leader that I believe are of fundamental importance to the development of servant leaders. The power of servant leadership is to focus on the needs of others, especially team members, before considering one's own.
As more and more organisations and individuals have sought to put servant leadership into practice, the work of the Spears Center for Servant-Leadership continues to expand to help meet that need.